Veteran Pittsburgh-based metal-core act Built Upon Frustration is back at it with The Book of Mourning, the ambitious, highly polished follow-up to 2004's Resurrected. The new album's changes in direction suggest that, even after a decade, this band is still finding itself -- not through quiet contemplation, but via sheer volume.
Some change was inevitable: Original vocalist Jason Hominsky and drummer Keith Hurka left in 2004, with Mike Papariella ascending the drum throne and Joe Bonaddio taking over vocals -- until July of this year, when he too left the group.
Now guitarist and producer Eric Klinger (also of Pro-Pain) leads the pack, lending his low guttural bark to The Book of Mourning, where the band downplays de-tuned hardcore in favor of a Pantera-sized slab of brutal metal. "All this bullshit now with baritone guitars and everyone tuning to B, we decided to take the other route by letting the heaviness of the riff take over," explains guitarist Derek Kovacs.
Most of the songs on Mourning ride Papariella's ultra-precise, ultra-high-speed kick drum, locked in synch with the churning guitar riffs. It's as if you're being led on a death march through a cratered no-man's-land, punctuated with sprays of machine-gun fire and the occasional blinding flare.
It's certainly not music for people who harbor a shred of hope about, well, anything: "So look into the eyes of your children, perpetuate their wasted lives / Amount to nothing and live like you / Born from shit their only birthrites," Klinger sings. And there's a certain worrisome sense that in denouncing all hypocrisy (especially the religious variety) and oppression, that Built Upon Frustration is in danger of becoming its own oppressive final Judge of Righteousness. But let's keep it all in perspective: This disc rocks.